I received a bill for €17,000 - just for using the M50
A student from Drogheda has ran up a massive bill of €17,000 on M50 toll charges.
Sharon Dunne (28) has criticised eFlow for inflicting colossal fines on customers in a recession.
The mature student from The Twenties, Drogheda, was brought to Dublin District Court by eFlow on behalf of the National Roads Authority on September 21.
She was accused of paying for only 43 journeys out of 241 between June 20, 2009 and September 29 this year, but the former mortgage broker has claimed that she owed eFlow for only 95 journeys.
She told the Herald: "I decided I would contest it. I thought the fines were ridiculous, and I thought, I'll go and make my point in court.
"I was actually knocked off my seat when they told me the amount I owed. I explained to the judge that I tried to sort it out last September, and I cleared all of the fines to the end of September."
The case was settled and Ms Dunne agreed to pay €3,000, but she is adamant that the fines she was charged by eFlow were exorbitant.
The bill is the highest amount known to be owed for tolls by a single motorist since the M50 became barrier-free in August 2008.
She stressed: "I called them last December when the bill was €1,300 and I made arrangements to pay it off, and in January I paid off €90 because that's what I could pay off. I've no grant any more, and I can't afford €100 a month.
"I tried to keep on top of it, but by March the letters were flying in through the door and I had gotten a summons."
eFlow wrote to her on 341 separate occasions with bills and summonses, which the student said made her life very "stressful". Ms Dunne regularly uses the M50 to commute from Drogheda to Dun Laogahire Institute of Art, Design and Technology where she studies costume design.
She said: "It's ridiculous. My car is a Citroen Saxo and it isn't even worth a grand at the moment, and in no way is it causing €17,000 worth of damage to the motorway.
"I was just standing up for my rights. I agreed to pay €3,000 but I couldn't agree to the structure of paying €100 a month, so now I'm paying €50 a month."
The cost for unregistered drivers of using the M50 is €3, and this rises to €6 if the toll is not paid by 8pm the next day. The maximum fine for one journey is €143.50, after over three months.
Ms Dunne: "I think it's a joke, and there's some very wealthy tycoon sitting in the Bahamas or somewhere, sipping cocktails, laughing at us mugs."